What would your last day on earth be like?
Would you surround yourself with booze and lovers or friends and loved ones?
Would you contemplate the end hunkering down alone or be energetic, alive and cruising through crowds?
The internet is populated with millions of memes from social media users insisting that people get off their butts and ‘Live Your Life.’ ‘Get Some’ or ‘Carpe Diem’. If someone knew the exact time of their death would they really bother to seize the day?
The writer Anatole France believed that most men are stuck living in a bourgeois compromise where they do not live fulfilling lives and don’t know how to get out of it. Eat, sleep, dream, eat, sleep, dream…
“We do not know what to do with this short life, yet we yearn for another that will be eternal”-Anatole France
If men could live forever then what kind of life would they envisage for themselves? Wouldn’t it be hell to live forever and at the same time lack a plan for life? Why should anyone need more time?
Henry David Thoreau wanted to escape from the human condition. He disliked the perpetual cycle of waking, working and sleeping and so he went to the woods, as he said, “to live deliberately and front only the essential facts of life”. Thoreau wanted to see if he could learn what it had to teach, and not when it came time to die, discover that he hadn’t lived. What would you do? What are any of us doing today?
I believe that everyday of our life should be a day where we can say, “I have lived a full life.” Today, take the time to reflect and appreciate what you have. Love your family with all your might. Don’t tell them, show them, and when they give it back say to yourself, “today is a good day to die.” If you have to go, know that you gave it ALL.
One of my favorite movie scenes comes right out of the movie Little Big Man. Little Big Man is a 1970 American comedy-drama western based on the novel Little Big man by Arthur Penn. The story is about a white male child raised by Cheyenne Indians during the 19th century. The movie takes a satirical approach and has many scenes in it where the U.S. military is viewed negatively. This movie was part of the anti-Vietnam push in Hollywood. While the movie was an anti-establishment movie it had some great moments in it. One of those great moments is actor Chief Dan George (playing Chief Lodge Skins) giving a speech while actor Dustin Hoffman (playing the character Jack) stands by and observes him.
Jack accompanies Old Lodge Skins to an Indian burial ground, where the old man, dressed in full chief’s regalia, has declared “It is a good day to die”.
The Chief shouts up to the sky, “Come out and fight! It is a good day to die! Thank you for making me a Human Being! Thank you for helpin’ me to become a warrior! Thank you for my victories and for my defeats! Thank you for my vision, and the blindness in which I saw further! You make all things and direct them in their ways, O Grandfather. And now you have decided the Human Beings will soon walk a road that leads nowhere. I am gonna die now, unless death wants to fight. And I ask you for the last time to grant me my old power to make things happen.” The Chief gives a moving speech although his life doesn’t end as he expects it to. It begins to rain and they walk off to have dinner.
There are real men today who possess the character of Chief Lodge Skins. They have lived a long time, experienced much, seen the world change and are ready at any moment to go. The movie ends with the character Jack thinking about the coming of the modern world (the 20th century) and the ending of the era of the open plains. He looks at the situation with sadness. He is a man who cannot change. He lives in the past.
Some of us may believe the good years are behind us, letting regret take place of our dreams and inevitably it snuffs out that little flame that could have been an inferno. Some men are like swords that can be forged in fire, and those who change, who are malleable with every burning become the most formidable of weapons and can fight through anything. We should be able to change with circumstances without losing a sense of who we are, and even who we were. It is still there deep down if we search for it. A piece of metal changes its shape but its material essence is the same. Energy is just changing from one form to another.
Perhaps life ends today, perhaps it ends tomorrow. Have dinner with your friends and brothers. Share stories, make new memories, enjoy the time.
Emperor Marcus Aurelius learned how to shape his own life by controlling his thoughts. He accepted that life was filled with trials and tribulations. Life was not easy for him. He encountered many troubles as Emperor but he reasoned that the universe was fundamentally good. His place of peace, his inner sanctum or citadel, was his mind. Aurelius controlled that space. He shaped his life around believing that being virtuous empowered him to be courageous enough to face heartache. Any impediment in life was met with firm resolve to not be broken. His mind was his fortress and it was a home where peace settled. Peace lived within him. Nothing without could affect him.
Men who escape from engaging in a challenge will always lose an opportunity to grow and will never realize how close they were to success. I think we should try to spend a little bit of time each day considering what kind of person we want to be and then trying to live up to that standard. A man’s journey on the long walk of life illuminates something about himself but he first has to get on the path to find out what that is. He will gain an intimate understanding about what kind of person he is. Successes and failures will never stop but he’ll see that he is a warrior through it all.
Whatever little thing possessed your heart when you were young still exists. Be strong, be brave, be humble…
Live for Today for Tomorrow May Not Come.
THE GREATEST- by Cat Power
Once I wanted to be the greatest
No wind or waterfall could stall me
And then came the rush of the flood
Stars at night turned deep to dust
Melt me down
Into big black armour
Leave no trace of grace
Just in your honor
Lower me down
To culprit south
Make ’em wash a space in town
For the lead
And the dregs of my bed
I’ve been sleeping
Lower me down
Pin me in
Secure the grounds
For the later parade
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